Two election watchers argue as they wait for returns to roll in.

Two election watchers argue as they wait for returns to roll in.

Can facts change beliefs?

Research is still being done on the topic. But, the fact that it’s unclear if that’s the case says a lot about how firmly held our opinions can be. If an army of fact-checkers can’t move a mind, what can?

This summer, New York Times columnist David Leonhardt asked his readers to choose an issue and really grapple with it. He pushed them to do the research and see if maybe any seeds of doubt on a subject could sprout.

And now, we issue Leonhardt’s challenge to you: dive into one of your closely held beliefs, then see what happens. Will your views evolve? Or will you walk away with more fodder to try to change others’ minds?

If you want to take up the challenge and think through one of your opinions, text us.

Text the word think to 63735. We’ll ask you about your topic, then check in with you with links, research and encouragement.

Standard message rates may apply. You can text stop any time to opt out.

Guests

  • David Leonhardt Op-ed columnist, The New York Times; former editor, The Upshot; @DLeonhardt
  • Brendan Nyhan Professor of political science, Dartmouth College; @BrendanNyhan
  • Emile Bruneau Director, Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab, Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Kate Kendell Executive director, National Center for Lesbian Rights; @katekendell

Try For Yourself

What’s a political or controversial opinion you hold firmly? Have you had arguments about it? Have you ignored headlines about it? Well, now is the time to think about it — to challenge yourself. But don’t worry, we’ll help you.

Inspired by David Leonhardt’s column, we’re asking you to, in his words: “Pick an issue that you find complicated, and grapple with it. Choose one on which you’re legitimately torn or harbor secret doubts. Read up on it. Don’t rush to explain away inconvenient evidence.”

Once you choose your topic, text think to 63735.* Throughout the next few weeks, we’ll check in with you. We’ll send encouragement, research and tips for deep thinking.

Then, we’ll check back in on air to see whether you’ve changed your mind, strengthened your existing view or added some nuance to your opinion. The goal is to, as Leonhardt writes, “remind you that democracy isn’t simply about political force. It also depends on inquiry and open-mindedness.”

*Standard message rates may apply. Text stop at any time to stop getting the messages.

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